The decision to become a surrogate mother is not an easy one and should not be taken lightly just because $20,000 sounds like a significant reasonable chunk of change. It is a very long-term commitment that has serious emotional and physical repercussions. Often, the desire to become a surrogate is from a deep internal generosity and an altruistic need to help a family get the the one thing they need the most, but cannot get themselves. Especially since most surrogates have already had at least one child and know first-hand how special a little nugget can be. In addition to the 9-10 months of no booze and crazy food cravings, surrogacy is a legal matter that should be considered from all angles.
First decide if you want to go through a surrogate mother agency like Surrogate Mothers, Inc., or do this independently. An surrogate agency will do all the leg-work to find you a suitable couple and be there for you throughout the entire pregnancy, and most importantly they can offer you so much more legal protection than you will be able to do for yourself on your own. Although no one wants to consider these things, what happens if your surrogate couple stops paying you? You don’t want this baby- that’s why you’re doing it for someone else, so why should their financial issues (or change of heart, which is rare), whatever they may be affect you for the rest of your life. An agency will support you and guide you through difficult, and uncommon, situations like that so that your rights are protected.
The next big decision is weather you want to undergo a traditional pregnancy or gestational pregnancy. The difference being that in a traditional pregnancy, you would be artificially inseminated (AI) with the husbands sperm that will attach to your egg. In this scenario, you are the biological mother of the child, your name will be on the birth certificate, and the mother must legally adopt the baby. Gestational pregnancies involve egg donation from the mother and sperm from the father which are inserted into your body so the baby that grows in there is biologically theirs and both of their names will appear on the birth certificate.
Surrogacy laws vary from state to state, and definitely country to country. For example, surrogacy is not legal in the UK. In a surrogate relationship you are legally bound to do everything you can to be healthy and take care of the baby while it is in your belly, you must give it up at birth and you cannot abort it without the parents approval. It is SO important that you understand the laws of the state you are participating in, as well as the rights owed to you and the rights you surrender to your couple. Additionally, and this is a tough one, miscarriages happen. It is a devastating reality, but it is a possibility. In the event that this occurs, you need to be familiar with the legalities of your contract about whether you are help responsible or if you cannot be held responsible. In this situation, it is important to be brave, face your couple, see a counselor, and let the grief go.
During the pregnancy period, if you have selected to go with an agency, they will refer you to a doctor who will perform the insemination and then set you up for regular check-ups and also provide you with a wealth if information, counselors and support groups for you to lean on during what is sure to be a very emotional experience. If you choose to go through this process independently, be very sure you are choosing a suitable doctor. Your surrogate couple is paying for it, so make sure he’s the best!
Arm yourself with as much information as possible and you will make an excellent surrogate.